Craig Conroy's puffy kisser is enough to make even the cold-blooded media squeamish.
The right side of both lips is swollen to twice the size while his mouth has endured sufficient punishment to make a hooked cod cry 'uncle!'
But the question had to be asked yesterday by one queasy reporter: Just how many stitches are in there?
"I'm not even sure," Conroy shrugged after the Flames' Saddledome skate in which the centre, not surprisingly, declined to participate.
"I've got 'em inside, I've got 'em all over the place. They just kept puttin' them in and I just kept watching the game (on TV) as they were puttin' them in. There's quite a few, mostly inside."
Conroy missed most of the second period of Sunday night's 2-1 loss to Vancouver after Canucks goalie Johan Hedberg whacked him in the face clearing the puck from behind his net.
The 10-year veteran gladly reports his teeth remain intact, although a few were temporarily relocated.
"Mostly just stitches in my mouth, stitches up under my teeth bring my teeth back out," Conroy noted. "They were in pretty good and we'll see if I can keep 'em."
He expects to resume his position in Game 4 tonight on the top line between wingers Chris Simon and Jarome Iginla. The full faceshield he'll don is similar to what he wore playing four seasons with the NCAA's Clarkson Knights, making the adjustment easier.
"I did wear it in college and it was just the first couple of shifts (Sunday night) that were very tough," Conroy recalled of his third-period return.
"I felt like I couldn't find (the puck) in my feet but after that it's almost like you can't notice. (Today) in practice I'll wear it and then go from there."
"The first couple of shifts were very tough then it was like it was gone. I guess it's like (the fans) looking through that net out there. It seems like you see it when you first sit down and then you're looking right through it but the first two shifts were very difficult. The puck was in my feet and I was looking down."
Conroy said his facial jolt typifies playoff hockey that forces players to rise above the pain to win a series.
"A face isn't a big deal ... we have to battle through," Conroy insisted, adding the injury shouldn't hamper his play.
"Mine's going to heal and hopefully it'll heal by (tonight). Once I get going, I'll be fine. Adrenalin -- as good as that crowd was (Sunday) I'll have no problem."
Conroy also suffered having to watch Canuck Matt Cooke net the game-winner just as he returned to the game.
"I was disappointed that they scored on the first shift I was back but now I get a chance to redeem myself," Conroy said.
Connie's all sewn up
DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun
, Last Updated: 2:34 PM ET